Given how popular the Bomberman games have been over the years, I’m a bit surprised there haven’t been more games that have borrowed ideas from the franchise. Enter Bombslinger, a new game on the Nintendo Switch that is about as close to a Bomberman clone as you can get, albeit with a few differences sprinkled in. Like many games these days, the multiplayer mode will keep you coming back for more, but the single player portion leaves much to be desired.
Bombslinger has a very wild-west presentation with Bomberman mechanics. You begin the adventure mode with a single bomb in your possession that you can place on any open square. You’ll need to clear the way of various objects, like tumbleweeds and barrels to create a path through the maze. Standing in your way are various enemies, which can range from old men walking around in their underwear holding pitchforks to goats that can charge at you. Defeating them will sometimes yield money or keys that can open treasure chests.
The stages play out a little bit like the original The Legend of Zelda dungeons, where you are locked into the room until the enemies are defeated. There is a small map showing the connecting rooms, with most stages having around 5 to 9 separate screens to explore. Unlike Bomberman where power-ups would be hiding inside destructible blocks, this game delivers those upgrades via stores and leveling up. Each enemy you defeat gives you XP that fills up a green bar at the bottom of the screen. When this fills up you’re given a choice of three different power-ups. You could gain the ability to lay more bombs at one time, extend the flame of the bombs, kick the bombs, etc. You have health in the game, so you can find items that will replenish your health or even give you an extra heart container.
Where the game stumbled for me is that it’s a rogue-like randomly generated series of stages. This means that one play session could be easy and the next tremendously difficult. If you die you get a Game Over screen and have to start over from the very beginning. This can be extremely frustrating if you’ve spent the last 45 minutes working your way through the quest. I’m not a fan of this randomly generated difficulty and the game can be pretty unfair at times, especially with the boss fights. On top of that, the last time I played the game I had finally gotten further than I ever had before and got to the boss with full hearts ready to take it down. I was doing well when all of a sudden the game crashed, wiping out everything I had done up to that point. Now, keep in mind the version played for review had not yet been patched, so this type of error may be fixed in the final game, but it goes to show you that a game that doesn’t let you save your progress can really screw you over in the end. I was so angry that I haven’t gone back to play the game any more.
On the multiplayer side of things I’ve got good news and bad news. First up, I really am glad the game went for classic overhead look and doesn’t have a weird viewpoint like Super Bomberman R. Plus the pixel graphics look much better in my opinion. The game supports up to four players dueling to the death. There are a few options to choose from and a decent amount of stages. I did manage to get a group of us together to try out the multiplayer and we had a good time, but I fear there’s not as much content here to keep most players happy for an extended amount of time. Granted, this game is much cheaper so that has to be taken into account. The lack of online battles means you’ll have to battle locally, but honestly I feel that’s the best way to play these types of games anyway. I would have liked more options, like the ability to play on teams or choosing which items can be used in battle. I do like that you can play deathmatch (whoever is first to reach the set number of kills wins) or the more traditional last man standing. Stage variety could have used a boost as well with more unique environments, hazards, and special features.
As a huge fan of the Bomberman series I was excited to give Bombslinger a try. If it wasn’t for the insane difficulty and various game bugs (the game crashed on me more than once) I’d have had a better time with it. The multiplayer is fun, if limited, and the setting is unique and entertaining. As it stands the game is definitely worth considering and if the game is patched to address some of the issues I will come back and revisit the score.
Final Thoughts: WORTH CONSIDERING
I really wanted to like Bombslinger and in some ways I did. The grueling difficulty spikes (which are randomized) and the game’s bugs got in the way of my enjoyment. The multiplayer mode is probably worth the price of admission for those looking for an alternative to Bomberman.
Bombslinger was reviewed using a final retail Nintendo Switch download code provided by the publisher.